Fewer sites and a mobile hub among suggestions to improve Penticton vendor program

City staff and council discussed improvements to the city's street and beach vending program on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. Several councillors expressed a desire to see vendors surrounding the Peach Concession removed from the beach to the concrete plaza surrounding the Peach.

PENTICTON - The vending program used by the city could be changing with the hope of reducing the number of vendors lining beaches and streets in Penticton.

City staff and council looked at the city’s vending program on Monday, Jan. 18, in an attempt to gauge interest and get feedback on suggestions for improvements that might help create more profits and better access for vendors in the future.

City Business Development Officer Stephanie Chambers said she gathered feedback from the public and vendors in coming up with suggestions for improving the program, which has been run by several different city departments over the past few years, including business licensing, land management and most recently recreation.

One of key recommendations Chambers hopes to see involves reducing the number of vendors lining the city’s beaches and streets.

Chambers suggested a reduction in the number of vending sites to 25 from the current 40 potential spots on the city’s two beaches. A number of sites haven’t been utilized in the past, and of those that are being utilized, there are a few sites that don’t generate high traffic. Chambers said those sites could be eliminated to allow vendors a better chance for success by providing sites known to be more successful.

A 10' by 10' tent site rents on the beach for $1,300 in a season typically four months long. Last year the city generated $55,750 in revenue, which Chambers admitted was more or less revenue neutral to the city when administration costs and Chambers’ time to operate the program was taken into account.

Four mobile vendors managed by the city are charged $1,800 monthly for a six-month season, something Chambers said they would like to see expanded to nine months, giving vendors more independence as to when they start and finish their seasons.

Council expressed concerns about the number and location of vending sites around the Peach Concession, with some advocating the sites be placed on the new concrete deck surrounding the Peach, rather than on the beach.

Chambers suggested reducing the number of sites at the Peach to six from nine, noting she had received a lot of input from the public regarding vendor sites in the area of the Peach.

She walked council through all the vending locations on both Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake beaches, noting a number of locations where the full number of sites were never rented.

Chambers also floated the idea of tiered pricing, based on the perceived profitability of a location.

“Peach and Skaha Main concession traffic is unparalleled,” she noted.

The option of bidding on sites was also put forward, as well as an option to offer multi-year leases on sites.

Chambers also suggested the creation of a 'hub' for the city’s mobile vendors, located along the proposed Gyro Park link road connecting Main Street with Martin Street. She said the location would accommodate up to four vendors, if the portable washrooms traditionally located there were relocated. The vendors would be available to operate out of the location during festive and other events in the park, relocating to nearby streets during paid events at Gyro Park.

A report on the city’s vending program will be presented to council at the Feb. 1 regular meeting of council.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at sarstad@infonews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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